Dissertation on environmental pollution and global warming 27 08-2013
CHAPTER – I
“Environment” is a difficult word to define. Its normal meaning relates to
surrounding, but obviously that is a concept which is relatable to whatever object it
is which is surrounded. Einstein had once observed, “The environment is
everything that isn’t me”.1
Environment is a polycentric and multifaceted problem
affecting the human existence. Man is nature’s best promise and worst enemy. If
for the progress of the society industry is necessary, pollution is inevitable. Since
progress and pollution go together, there can be no end of progress, and
consequently, no escape from pollution. If Industry is a necessary evil but
pollution surest sufferance. “Pollution” is a noun derived from the transitive verb
“pollutes” which means to make foul or unclean, dirty, to make impure or morally
unclean. “Pollution” also means the direct or indirect discharge by man of
substance or energy into the aquatic environment resulting in hazard to human
health, harm to living resources and aquatic ecosystems, damage to amenities on
interference with other legitimate uses of water.2
The protection of environment is a global issue and it is not an isolated
problem of any area or nation. The problem of environmental pollution in an
increasingly small world concerns all countries irrespective of their size, level of
development or ideology. Notwithstanding political division of the world into
national units, the oceanic world is interconnected whole; and winds that blow over
See T.N. Godavarman Thirumalpad V. Union of India, (2002) 10 SCC 606 at 618.
Id., at 627-628. See also Halsbury’s Laws of England, 4th
Edn. Vol. 38 para 66; Karnataka Industrial Areas
Development Board V.C. Kenchappa, (2006) 6 SCC 371.
the countries are also one.3
If the nuclear test is carried out in one part of the world,
the fall out may be carried by winds to any other part of the world and such fall out
of irresponsible disposal of radioactive waste from a remote energy plant in one
country may turn out to have greater adverse effect on the neighboring countries
than the danger of fully fledged war.4
The problem of environmental pollution is not new in its origin. It is as old
as the emergence of Homo sapiens on the Planet and it was realized in the times of
Plato 2500 years ago.5
However, different dimensions of the problem of
environment protection and its management have taken a serious turn in the
present era. Today, Society’s interaction with nature is so extensive that
environment question has assumed proportions affecting all humanity.
Industrialization, Urbanization, Population explosion, poverty, over-
exploitation of resources, depletion of traditional resource of energy and raw
materials and the research for new sources of energy and raw materials, are
some of the factors which have contributed to environmental deterioration the
world over. While the scientific and technological progress of man has invested
him with immense power over nature, it has also resulted in the unthinking use of
the power, encroaching endlessly on nature.6
It is a basic right of all to live in a healthy environment. The acute poverty
in the country requires developmental process to be accelerated, but we cannot do
so at the cost of environment thereby endangering not only the present generation
M.C. Mehta V. Union of India, (1991) 2 SCC 353 at 354
Due to the agricultural chemicals, solvents and mercury, which flowed into the Rhine River during a warehouse
fire in Switzerland, millions of fish were killed and the drinking water in the Federal Republic of Germany and the
Netherlands was threatened.
See Hambro, E., “The Human Environment-Stockholm and After”, Year Book of World Affairs, 20 (1974).
Shri Sachidanand Pandey V. State of West Bengal, A.I.R. 1987 S.C. 1109. See also T.N. Godavarman
Thirumalpad V.Union of India, (2002) 10 SCC at 622
but also the future generation. The crying need of the hour is the “sustainable
development”. “Sustainable development” is that development which meets the
need of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet
At present, human beings are indeed at the heart of the search for
sustainable development as our very survival depends on very narrow range
The line of thinking in Government circles could now change to address the
above issues, with more awareness and the development of ISO 14001 by the
International Organization for Standardization to provide organizations worldwide
with a consistent and globally recognized structure for creating, implementing,
monitoring and improving environmental management systems. The Government
alone cannot accomplish much. Initiative has to be taken by the Common man in
general and by Industry in particular. And to make a Company's Environment
Management System a success, contribution should come in from every employee,
no matter how small. As they say "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who
did nothing because he could only do a little."
• The Human race has only one or perhaps two generations to rescue itself
• 420 million people live in countries which no longer have enough land to
grow their own crop food and have to rely on imports
• About one quarter of the developing world’s crop land is being degraded and
the rate is increasing
See Our Common Future- The World Commission on Environment and Development, 43 (1987).
• More than 500 million people are living in regions prone to chronic drought.
By 2025 that number is likely to have increased fivefold
• Global warming is accelerating and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has
reached 370.9 parts per million
• Global production of hazardous waste has reached more than 300m tonnes a
• About 30% of the world’s forests are seriously degraded or fragmented and
are being cut down at the rate of 50,000 sq, miles a year!
• The 20% of the world's people who live in the highest income countries
consume 86% of the world's resources. (New Internationalist, March 1999)
• Forest cover in India declined from 42% in 1947 to 5% in the next 50 years!
• More than 40,000 people die a premature death every year due to pollution
• Carbon dioxide levels are in excess of 500mg/m3 at traffic intersections
which is five times more than the WHO recommended levels
• Most surface water in India is polluted
• India is home to the most degraded environment
• Monetary loss due to water, air and land pollution is estimated to be Rs 20, 5
and 10 thousand crores per year respectively
• Monetary loss due to water, air and land pollution is estimated to be Rs 20, 5
and 10 thousand crores per year respectively
DOCTRINAL (TRADITIONAL) RESEARCH:
PRIMARY SOURCES: Collected information from Various Text Books and
Websites (Details are mentioned in Bibliography and Footnotes)
The importance is given to Save Earth from Global Warming all over the
The environment pollution is due to cutting down the trees, increase in
vehicles which resulting in giving out Carbon Dioxide, cutting down the
hills, closing the lakes and converting them into residential and commercial
The nature is God given gift to the mankind which is hidden with many
preventive measures in itself which man cannot think of.
The earth has its own tolerance level which man cannot test it. When the
tolerance limit of the earth exceeds, mankind should suffer its after-effects.
Today, we think it is government’s job to save our planet. We do not ready
to own any responsibilities in this regard.
Today a lot of NGOs, Giant IT Companies and Other Top companies in
India as well as worldwide have come forward to work towards reducing
Global Warming and prevent environment pollution so that attempting to
save our natural resources.
As a first step, we have to bring this awareness among our people so that
they could teach their children about starting saving our natural resources
from home itself.
The Global Warming is resulted in Global Problem today. It is the burning
issue of today’s world. It is threatening to see that we are inviting our own end by
ending our own nature for our selfishness. The global warming is being increased
day-by-day which causing an alarm among the mankind. The global warming is
being increased due to greediness and Selfishness of human beings which resulted
in Environment Pollution. We are destroying our nature with our own hands. This
made me to select this topic for my project. We need to give utmost importance in
saving our own earth. A relevant education needs to be given to our children and
youth in this regard. We need to bring awareness about avoiding environment
pollution so that we can bring down the global warming.
The environment is the surroundings in which an organization operates,
including air, water, land, natural resources, flora, fauna, human beings and their
interrelation. According to the first law of Thermodynamics, Matter and Energy
cannot be created or destroyed. Thus we can never really get rid of anything! In the
natural processes, matter and energy tend to flow in cycles. Environmental quality
is maintained by these cycles and the interactions between them. Have you ever
wondered that one day, there may not be anyone alive anymore? To be concerned
about environmental issues is not done for the sake of the environment, but rather,
to secure the people who are depending on it.
The environment has arrived! It is no longer just the air we breathe, or the
world we live in, it has become a requirement for businesses to address the
environment in order to build lasting relationships with customers, and thrive in an
ever more critical global economy. With many pressing problems in the world
right now such as poverty, war etc, why do we need to show interest in the
conservation of our environment?
Planet Earth, the third rock from the sun and the fifth largest is home to a
multitude of living creatures including homosapiens the two-legged; myopic;
highly volatile and cantankerous creatures whose number has increased multiple
times over in the last decade alone bringing with it a huge strain on the resources
needed to satisfy his wants.
In the last four decades or so, Man has become aware that not everything is
well with his environment. He has come to realize that he cannot take Mother
Nature for granted. Global warming, acid rain, the depleting ozone layer, delayed
monsoons, floods and such natural disasters are issues that are beginning to worry
mankind. To his dismay, he found that it does not take a nuclear bomb alone to
destroy this wonderful planet that he lives on.
Today, as he looks to his future, he sees natural resources like water, wood,
oil etc., that he took for granted, dwindling away, and faces the bleak prospect of a
life without many of these once abundant raw material. And when he started
wondering how this horrifying thing was happening, he could see that he had
himself and none other to blame for this catastrophe. If the Chernobyl nuclear
accident and the Bhopal gas tragedy were examples of destruction due to industrial
callousness, man got a taste of what unhygienic living habits could lead to after the
calamity in the form of Plague in Surat.
CHAPTER – II
“ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION AND GLOBAL
Definition of Environment
The term Environment is derived from the French word “Environner”, which
means “to surround”. The term environment literally means the surroundings and
conditions under which men live and work. Environment refers to the sum total of
all conditions and influences that affect the development of life of all organisms.
According to section 2(a) of the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986,
“environment includes water, air and land and human beings, other living
creatures, plants, microorganism and property.”
According to section 2(b) of the Act, “environmental pollutant means any
solid, liquid or gaseous substance present in such concentration as may be, or tend
to be injurious to environment”.
According to section 2(c) of the Act, “environmental pollution” means the
presence in the environment of any environmental pollutant”.
(A) GENESIS OF THE PROBLEM
In order to achieve sustainable development environment protection
constitutes an integral part of developmental process and it cannot be considered in
isolation. Peace, development and environment are interdependent and invisible.8
Today we are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within
nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing
deterioration of the ecosystem on which we depend for our well-being. However,
integration of environment and development concerns and greater attention to them
will lead to the fulfillment of basic needs, improved living standards for all, better
protected and managed ecosystem and a safer, more prosperous future.9
There is a close relationship which exists between a healthy environment
and economic condition of the community at large. The problem of environmental
pollution is the problem of both developed and under developed or poor nations.
As far as developing nations are concerned, “poverty and lack of development”
constitute an essential element of the problem of environmental pollution. In fact,
the poverty is the worst form of pollution. The poor people who do not have
means to get one meal a day, clothes to cover themselves and shelter to live in,
cannot possibly think about the environment protection. For them any method by
Principles 4 and 25 of the Rio Declaration of 1992.
See the Preamble to the Agenda – 21.
which they can survive is the best, least caring about its effect on the environment.
They are not educated and hence they are not having enough awareness to know or
understand the problem. On the other hand, the developed countries have
problems of their own. Over Production, nuclear radiations, over exploitation of
resources, industrial wastes in different forms, industrial accidents and the living
style of the people are some of the contributing factors for environmental problem
in the developed countries.
The present century, particularly, in the later half has seen a lot of growth
and economic development in almost all the countries. The methods of economic
development, which mankind has followed, are also creating environmental
problem. With the industrial and technological development, mankind has not
only improved the economic conditions but also altered the natural ecological
balance. Industrialization, urbanization and erosion of biodiversity have affected
the natural environment adversely.10
(B) INDIAN SCENARIO
In India, as elsewhere in the world, uncontrolled growth and consequent
environmental deterioration is fast assuming menacing proportions and all Indian
Cities and majority of the population are afflicted with the problem. Global
warming, ozone depletion and toxic pollution are some of the negative effects of
existing development strategy.
B.K.Jindal, K.L. Toky and Paramjit S. Jaswal, Environmental Studies, 292-93 (1997). See also T.N. Godavarman
Thirumalpad V. Union of India, (2002) 10 SCC 606 at 621; Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board v. O.
Kenchappa, (2006) 6 SCC 371 at 380.
Today, most of our rivers are polluted. Deforestation of most of our forests
is increasing day by day. Leakage of poisonous gases and other harmful gases,
liquids and solid wastes from the industries has almost become a regular
phenomenon of the present day. The problem of noise pollution, particularly, in
big cities is at alarming stage. Land erosion through winds and water has become
the common feature.
(C) ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION AND RELIGIOUS AND
CULTURAL HERITAGE IN INDIA
Professor Paras Diwan has expressed the view that “traditionally we are a
pollution loving nation”. According to him:
We pollute air by bursting crackers on Diwali, Dussehra and on the
occasions of marriages and other festivals. We pollute our rivers by disposing of
our dead bodies and all other human and other waste. We take out so much wood
from our trees for fuel that in many areas trees have become scarce. We are
primarily a vegetarian nation, but our wildlife is on the verge of extinction. We are
lovers’ cleanliness and, therefore, broom out all our household and other waste on
the public streets. Any space is good enough for us to ease. We are a country
which believes in open latrines. Municipalities are oblivious of their duties and all
city wastes, human and industrial effluents are allowed to flow in open drains and
to flood the streets. We are equally fond of noise pollution. God men’s voice must
be heard by all, day and night, and our Ratjagas, Akhandpaths and ozone must use
loudspeakers and amplifiers; no one should be deprived from hearing God’s and
God man’s voice – and Gods too are far away beyond the hell and heaven. Our
Voice must reach them; otherwise our spiritual needs will remain unmonitored.
We are not less noisy in our secular matters. Our marriage and burial processions
must be accompanied by bands, twists and Bhangras.11
However, from the above observations it should not be understood that in
ancient India there was no concern for environment protection and that this
concern is only of recent origin. In fact, the concern for environment protection in
India can be traced back to the period between 321 and 300 B.C. The ancient
Indian law on environment protection is found in Kautilya’s Arthashastra.12
was the dharma of each individual in the society to protect the nature. The people
worshipped the objects of nature. The trees, water, land and animals gained
important position in the ancient times.13
The cultural and religious heritages of
Indians show a deep concern for the protection and preservation of the
Environmental pollution was controlled rigidly in the ancient times. It was
not an affair limited to an individual or individuals but the society as a whole
accepted its duty to protect the environment.14
The Indian society has, since time immemorial, been conscious of the
necessity of protecting environment and ecology. The main motto of social life
has been “to live in harmony with nature”. Sages and saints of India lived in
forests. Their preaching contained in Vedas, Upanishad’s, smritis, etc. are ample
Id., at 11.
See Armin Rosencranz., Shyam Divan Martha L. Noble, Environmental Law and Policy in India – Cases, Material
And Statutes, 27 (1991)
C.M. Jariwala, “Changing Dimensions of Indian Environmental Law”, in P. Leelakrishanan (Ed.) Law And
Environment, 1-25 at 2 (1992).
See T.N. Godavarman Thirumalpad V. Union of India, (2002) 10 SCC 606 Para 20
evidence of the society’s respect for plants, trees, earth, sky, air, water and every
form of life. It was regarded as a sacred duty of everyone to protect them. In those
days, people worshipped trees, rivers and sea which were treated as belonging to
all living creatures. The children were educated by their parents and grandparents
about the necessity of keeping the environment clean and protecting earth, rivers,
sea, forests, trees, flora, fauna and every species of life.15
In Hinduism, we find that from Vedic period, the environment was part of
ethos of ancient people. In Rig Veda, it is mentioned that the universe consists of
five basic elements. They are Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Ether (space). These
five elements provide the basis for life in everything and man is ordained to
conserve them. It is further ordained that nobody will destroy vegetation and no
one shall kill animals. Thus, it shows compassion for both animals and plants.
The basic tenets of Buddhism are simplicity and ahimsa or non-violence.
Both these principles of Buddhism are of great importance in the conservation and
protection of natural environment. The principle of simplicity teaches us that man
should not overexploit the natural resources. Man should not become greedy to
earn more and more in the shortest possible time by exploiting the natural wealth
And leaving nothing for the future generation.
The other basic principle of Buddhism, i.e., ahimsa or non-violence,
teaches us that we should not kill animals. It shows the love for fauna and flora.
In Buddhism we also find emphasis on tree plantation and their preservation.
King Ashoka wanted the non-violence to be the cultural heritage of the people.
Therefore, punishment was prescribed for killing animals.
See Fomento Resorts and hotels Ltd. V. Minguel Martins, (2009)3 SCC 57.
The basic thrust of Jainism is on the minimum destruction of living and
non-living resources for the benefit of man. People following Jainism also believe
in the principle of simplicity, i.e., to meet their minim um needs without over-
exploiting the nature and natural wealth. Thus, Jainism is also based on the
principle which is in close harmony with nature and help in protecting and
preserving the nature.
The Holy Koran declares that everything is created from water. Thus, there
is a significance of purity of water. Allah is considered to be the owner of land
and mankind is the trustee or guardian whereas other living creatures are
considered to be the beneficiaries. In Islam also there is close harmony between
man and nature.
Christians are baptized in water, as a sign of purification. In fact, in almost
all religions, a common thread is the sacred quality of water. Pope Paul VI, in his
message to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held at
Stockholm in June, 1972 stated that the environment and resources are for
everyone; they are inalienable property of everyone, and there does not exist over
this universal property discretionary sovereignty exempting from responsibility
towards the humanity of today and tomorrow. This message of Pope Paul makes it
amply clear that there is a close link between Christianity and environment and the
thrust is for sustainable development. The man of today should not exploit the
natural resources in such a way so that nothing is left for the coming generations.
Sikh religion is comparatively of recent origin. The concern for
environment is evident from the fact that it considers every creature to be the
incarnation of God and hence conservation and preservation are essential
(D) GLOBAL ISSUES OF DEPLETION OF OZONE LAYER AND
GLOBAL WARMING (GREEN HOUSE EFFECT)
The depletion of ozone layer and global warming (Green House Effect) is one
of the major problems before the present generation. In order to understand the
phenomenon of global warming and green house effect it is necessary to
understand about the ozone layer and the role it plays in the protection of this
1. Ozone Layer
Ozone (O3) is a colorless gas, which is allotropy of oxygen (O2). Thus, it
has three atoms as compared to oxygen, which has two atoms. Ozone is produced
by recombination of oxygen under the influence of ultraviolet radiations from sun
in the upper layers of atmosphere. The ozone formation occurs 16 km above the
surface of the earth. It is mainly found in the stratosphere and extends from 12 km
to 35 km. This part of the stratosphere, which is rich in ozone, is called ozone
sphere, ozone umbrella or ozone layer.
2. Ozone Layer as Protective Umbrella
The presence of ozone layer in the stratosphere forms a protective umbrella
around the earth. It absorbs the harmful short wave ionizing ultraviolet (UV)
radiations coming from the sun and thus prevents them from reaching the surface
of the earth. These ultraviolet (UV) radiations are very harmful and if all the
ultraviolet (UV) radiations coming from the sun reach the surface of the earth then
there would be no life on this earth planet. Thus, ozone layer forms a protective
umbrella around the earth and protects all the living organisms on the earth from
the harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiations coming from the sun. In this
way ozone layer acts as a great friend of mankind and all other living creatures. It
also plays a crucial role in controlling the earth’s temperature, wind pattern and
3. Depletion of Ozone Layer and Ozone Hole
This highly useful ozone layer blanket in the upper atmosphere has been
under threat by a wide range of human activities. Though most of the ozone is
produced above the equator of the earth as the maximum sun rays fall directly in
that region, yet the highest concentration of ozone has been noted in the polar
region. This is due to global air circulation. In the year 1985, Farman and his
team of scientists noted that a gap or hole in ozone layer exists over the Antarctica
region of the earth. This is called Antarctica Hole or Ozone Hole. In fact, there is
no actual hole in the ozone layer has many adverse effects. The ultraviolet (UV)
rays, which were earlier almost completely blocked by this ozone layer, can now
enter the earth’s lower atmosphere to some extent through this ozone hole. This
will increase gradually the level of ultraviolet (UV) radiations reaching the surface
of the earth. As stated earlier, high level of ultraviolet (UV) radiations are harmful
to nearly all forms of life.
(E) PREVENTION OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION
The global problem of the present day is the environmental pollution. The
environmental pollution is a serious threat to the existence and survival of human
race. Unpolluted air to breathe, uncontaminated water to drink, nutritious food to
eat and hygienic condition to live are unavoidable essentials for survival of human
race. Land surface, water resources, atmosphere, forests and wild life are part and
parcel of the environment. An unpolluted environment helps all round
development of one’s personality and a bad environment inhibits its development.
It affects living beings both directly and in directly. So environment should be
prevented from being polluted and destroyed.
Man is considered to be the most intellectual gene among the creations of God. In
his greed for socio-economic progress man has initiated exploitation of not only
his co-human and other being, but also the bounty of natural resources. In this
process man has reached to an extreme stage of polluting his own surrounding
environment thereby endangering the very existence of peaceful and natural living
of all beings.
(F) CAUSES OF POLLUTION
1. Increasing use of chemicals and fertilizers in the productive process and
programmers’ of industry and agriculture.
2. Growing methods of research and development in Science and Technology.
3. Atomic tests
4. Construction works leading to the emission of dust and other particles
5. Loud sounds and resounds causing vibrations and noise pollution
6. Deforestation for human dwelling and other purposes causing destruction of
forest resources and wildlife
7. Mining Operations
10. Unnatural storage of water
11. Unplanned sewerage and drainage systems
12. Population growth with concomitant poverty and frustration
(G) GROWING ATTACKS ON THE ENVIRONMENT
1. Poisonous Gases
In metropolitan cities of India around 800-1000 tons of poisonous gases are
being released every day in the atmosphere in which 50% is contributed by Motor
Vehicles, 20% by housing fuels and the rest by industries around the cities.
2. Loud Noise
In big cities noise pollution has reached up to 90 decibels as against the limit
for human tolerance which is only 20-40 decibels. This is likely to cause high
blood pressure, cardiac diseases and deafness.
3. Ozone Depletion
In the atmosphere around earth, at about 16 to 60 Kms. above earth surface,
Ozone gas forms a layer around earth. This ozone layer protects all inhabitants and
vegetation on earth from the dangerous ultra-violet solar radiation which are
powerful enough to damage living cells apart from causing sun-burns and skin
diseases like skin cancer. Ozone gas is produced by the union of atomic oxygen
formed by the splitting of molecular oxygen by sunlight with the molecules of
oxygen. The emission of chloro flouro-carbons and nitrous oxide by industrial
units on earth destroys this atmosphere ozone layer and causes the creation of holes
in this protective covering of earth, resulting in ultraviolet sun light reaching earth
which is responsible for the increase of skin cancer.
4. Acid Rain
The presence of dangerous gases produced by the burning of petroleum
products and military ammunition on earth produces dangerous gases like sulphur
dioxide and ammonia. These gases precipitate as acid rain on earth which
contains sulphuric acid and nitric acid among other dangerous acids. The acid rain
causes defoliation and death of trees, pollution of lakes killing all living creatures
in them and ultimately resulting in infiltration of dangerous chemicals into the soil
and ground water.
5. Nuclear Energy
The use of nuclear energy on a vast scale by the developed countries for
peaceful and military purpose has put the Mother Earth and the environment in a
new danger of pollution by nuclear radiation. The life on this planet is becoming
more dangerous with the addition of every atomic power station or atomic weapon.
6. Industrial Resolution
The emergence of the Industrial Revolution encouraged the growth of
factories and the labour needs of the factories resulted in the migration of
population from villages to urban area which was largely situated alongside rivers.
In these areas Industrial and household refuse and wastes are disposed off directly
into streams and those results in the pollution of river water.
(H) DESTRUCTION OF NATURAL CALAMITIES
Over exploitation of forests have destroyed natural soil conservation,
damaged water resources and natural compost and natural beauty. It has also
resulted in increased release of carbon dioxide in the air (since trees are the
pools/banks of the carbon dioxide), thereby creating the “greenhouse” effect. This
“greenhouse” effect has added to global warming and change of climatic pattern
throughout the world. As a result of which there is rain in the Thar Desert and
Chirapunji is no more a place of highest rainfall in the world.
Mythological studies reveal that when the degree of ‘Sin’ (offence) on the
Earth raises to its maximal, making the life impossible, the God, the invisible,
incarnates on Earth to be her savior. But to one’s own unexpectations, apparently,
today, in the modern high-tech and scientific era, man, a creation of God, is self-
volunteering to save the Mother Earth from growing ‘Sin’ of “Environmental
Pollution”. In this direction, the United Nations Conference on the Human
Environment held at Stockholm during the period from June 5 to 16, 1972 was
the real maiden attempt. This conference has virtually alarmed the immediate need
to take necessary steps to control the menace or dangers of pollution of earth, air
and space. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
convened at Rio-de-Janeiro, Brazil in June 1992 (Popularly known as Earth
Summit) also reaffirmed the philosophy as originated at the Stockholm
(I) SOURCES AND KINDS OF POLLUTION
The object of the environmental law is to preserve and protect the nature’s
gifts to man such as water, air, earth and atmosphere from pollution. In order to
effectively protect the environment from pollution, first of all we should ascertain
the meaning, the sources, and different kinds of pollutions.
1. Natural causes:
Pollution caused by the operation of natural forces such as cyclone, flood,
earthquake, etc., are called ‘natural pollution’ or ‘pollution caused by natural
causes’. In the case of natural pollution, there is no intervention of human agency.
2. Artificial Causes
Pollution caused by intervention of human agency is called ‘artificial
pollution’ or ‘pollution by artificial causes’. The following constitute ‘artificial
(a) Population Growth
3. Population Growth
Population explosion is a serious threat to the developing countries like
India. Population is growing by leaps and bounds. The rapid growth of population
and consequential demand for food products, goods and commodities compel the
people to exploit the natural resources without considering the adverse effect on
environment. The discharge of house-hold wastes, dust resulting from
construction work, fumes resulting from housing fuel, poisonous gases and sound
emitting from motor vehicles, etc., cause pollution of water, air and land.
The main source of environmental pollution is rapid growth of
industrialization. Industries release noxious and hazardous gas (methylisocynate)
released from Union Carbide Corporation India Ltd., on December 4, 1984
claimed thousands of lives of men and cattle. The wastes and effluents from the
factories are released into nearby water bodies like rivers, ponds, lakes and the sea.
This result in water pollution. The industrialization results in ozone depletion, acid
rains etc., and making the life in the earth dangerous.
(J) KINDS OF POLLUTION
1. Water Pollution
Water is an important factor in the life of organisms. It is a universal solvent
in which practically all the minerals, present in soil, may be dissolved. It supports
life system. It covers about one-third of the earth’s surface. Clean and pure water
is the inherent right of every man.
Although industries and factories manufacture useful goods, they are also
responsible for creating harmful waste products called “effluents”. They are
generally released into nearby water bodies like rivers, ponds, lakes and the sea.
These chemical effluents adversely affect the life of water animals and plants. Sea
Water gets polluted by oil spillage from large ships resulting in the death of fish
and other sea animals. Use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers also cause
pollution to water. Water also gets polluted by human and animal excreta and dead
organisms. This contaminated water spreads diseases like typhoid, cholera and
The presences of pollutants in water especially toxic substances either in the
sea, tanks, ponds or wells have affected life on earth badly. People are not getting
clean water to drink, for bath and household activities. In order to prevent
pollution of water our Parliament has enacted the Water (Prevention and Control of
Pollution) Act, 1974.
According to section 2(e) of this Act, “pollution” means such contamination
of water or such alteration of the physical, chemical or biological properties of
water or such alteration of the physical, chemical or biological properties of water
or such discharge of any sewage or trade effluent or of any other liquid, gaseous or
solid substance into water (whether directly or indirectly) as may, or is likely to,
create a nuisance or render such water harmful or injurious to public health or
safety, or to domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural or other legitimate uses,
or to the life and health of animals or plants or of aquatics organisms.
The following can be treated as water pollution Contamination of water
which is likely to create a nuisance or render such water harmful or injurious to
public health or safety, or to domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural or other
legitimate uses, or to the life and health of animals or plants or of aquatic
Alteration of the physical, chemical or biological properties of water which is
likely to create a nuisance. Discharge of any sewage or trade effluent or of any
other liquid, gaseous or solid substance into water which is likely to create a
nuisance. The main cause of water pollution is the discharge of solid or liquid
waste products containing pollutants.
1. Domestic and commercial wastes;
2. Industrial Wastes;
3. Pesticides and chemical fertilizers used in agricultural operation;
4. The acid rain resulting from air pollution;
5. Thermal wastes, etc.
Various measures have been taken for prevention of water pollution in India.
The Indian Parliament passed Act, as supplement to the Environment Protection
Act, 1986 relating to quality of water. Water Pollution Control Boards have been
set up at the Centre and State to promote cleanliness of water and to prevent
pollution. The Municipalities are entrusted with the control of solid wastes
through treatment plants, throughout the country. The Union Ministry of Forests,
Environment and Wild Life have developed action plans for the prevention of
pollution of the rivers, Ganga and Yamuna. Despite above efforts, the massive
problem of water pollution still remains unabated.
2. Air Pollution
Unpolluted air to breathe is the inherent right of every man. Air is the chief
constituent of human life without which we cannot survive for a few minutes. Air
is the mixture of various gases that forms the earth’s atmosphere and it extends up
to the height of about 300 kms, above the earth’s surface. Various gases such as
nitrogen, carbon dioxide, oxygen and hydrogen which are present in the air
perform various functions useful for living beings. The industrializations, motor
traffic, construction works, housing fuels, incineration (burning of wastes like
rubber, plastic products etc in open place) and natural causes such as earthquake,
cyclone etc., cause pollution to air. In metropolitan cities of India around 800-1000
tons of poisonous gases are being released every day in the atmosphere in which
50% is contributed by motor vehicles, 20% by housing fuels and the rest by
According to section 2(b) of the Act, “air pollution” means “the presence in
the atmosphere of any air pollutant”. According to section 2(a) of the Act “air
pollutant” means “any solid, liquid or gaseous substance including noise present in
the atmosphere in such concentration as may be or tend to be injurious to human
beings or other living creatures or plants or property or environment”. The
definition of air pollutant includes noise as a potential pollutant. As per the
provisions of Act, the central and State pollution control Boards have been
established to prevent and control air pollution.
3. Land or Soil Pollution
The land or soil is considered to be the heart of life. The major source of
land pollution is the massive amount of solid wastes disposed of by the people.
This includes household refuse, commercial rubbish, industrial wastes, garbage,
trash, automobile, tyres, cans, waste paper, etc. But the most dangerous pollutant
is the plastic components such as plastic bags, plastic papers, plastic wrappers and
other plastic products. These materials remain undecayed for a long time in the
soil, and they not only have nuisance value but also are health hazards. Dumping
of solid wastes into oceans will affect marine eco-system as well as territorial eco-
Apart from solid wastes, land pollution is causes by the excessive use of
chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Fertilizers are used to improve crop production.
Pesticides are chemicals used to kill insects that attack plants. Both are highly
poisonous and harmful to human beings. Pests increase in number because of an
imbalance in the ecosystem. If snakes are killed in large numbers, the number of
rats will increase. If fish are killed in large numbers, mosquitoes will increase
because eggs are food for fish. Mining operations, felling of trees, agricultural
operations and urbanization result in land pollution.
4. Noise or Sound Pollution
Noise is a form of sound. It is an unwanted or undesired and unpleasant
sound. It is also termed as misplaced sound. It produces bad effect on health. The
most commonly produced effect on health is the loss of hearing capacity and
fatigue. It causes annoyance and sleep interruptions. It may affect digestive
system. It may increase blood pressure.
Industries, stone quarries, loudspeakers, automobiles, aircrafts, trains,
construction works, Radio, Television, etc, are the main sources of noise pollution.
In England, Noise Abatement Act, 1960 was enacted to prevent and control air
pollution. In America, there is Noise Pollution and Abatement Act, 1970 for
prevention of Noise Pollution. In India there is no law exclusively dealing with the
problem of noise. However sections 268 and 290 of the India Penal Code, 1860,
Chapter III of the Factories Act, 1948, The Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 and the
rules made there under and the Environmental Protection Act, 1986 and the rules
made there under are useful to prevent and control noise pollution.
The Environmental (Protection) Rules as amended in 1989 prescribe
ambient air quality standards in respect of noise. These standards lay down the day
time and night time limits of noise in industrial, commercial and residential areas
as well as in “silence zones”. The use of vehicle horns, loudspeakers and bursting
of crackers is banned in silence zones. A ‘Silence zone’ has been defined as and
area up to 100 meters around hospitals, educational institutions, courts, etc. Noise
pollution can be mitigated by playing musical instruments at low volumes, banning
the use of loudspeakers and using good quality silencers in motor vehicles and
In Church of God (Full Gospel) in India V. K.K.R. Majestic Colony Welfare
Association (2000) 7 SCC 282, the respondent Welfare Association filed petition
against the appellant, a minority denominational church, for causing noise
pollution during the course of their regular prayer service. It was undisputed that
the Church used loud-speakers, drums and other instruments during prayers. The
appellant contended that the complaint was a motivated one, aimed at disrupting
the religious activities of a majority religious institution. The High Court found
that there was no malice or objectionable motive in the petition filed by the
respondent Welfare Association. The High court clearly held that as the noise
created by the church loudspeakers exceeded permissible decibel level it is to be
reduced. The Church preferred an appeal to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal and held
Undisputedly, no religion prescribes that prayers should performed by
disturbing the peace of others nor does it preach that they should be through voice
amplifiers or beating of drums. In a civilized society in the name of religion,
activities which disturb old or infirm persons, students or children having their
sleep in the early hours or during daytime or other persons carrying on other
activities cannot be permitted. Aged, sick people afflicted with physic
disturbances as well as children up to 6 years of age are considered to be very
sensitive to noise. Their rights are also required to be honored.
Under the Environmental Protection Act, 1986, rules for noise- pollution
level are framed which prescribe permissible limits of noise in residential,
commercial, industrial areas, or silence zone. The question is, whether the
appellant can be permitted to violate the said provisions and add to noise pollution.
Even to claim such a right it would be unjustifiable. In these days noise pollution
has become more serious with the increasing trend towards industrialization,
urbanization and modernization and is having many evil effects including danger
to health. It may cause interruption to sleep, affect communication, loss of
efficiency, hearing loss or deafness, high blood pressure, depression, irritability,
fatigue, gastro-intestinal problems, allergy, distraction, mental stress and
annoyance. This also affects the animal life. The extent of damage depends upon
the duration and the intensity of noise. Sometimes it leads to serious law and order
problem. Further, in an organized society rights are related with duties towards
others including neighbors’. Under such a circumstances it is not possible to allow
the Church to increase the noise pollution by beating drums or by use of voice
amplifiers, loudspeakers or by such other musical instruments beyond the
5. Food Pollution
Every living being requires food to grow and to obtain energy for carrying
on his activities. If the food is polluted and adulterated it will cause injurious
effect on the consumer. Food gets polluted from its source to its use. Food
pollution begins when chemicals are used for plant growth. These chemicals
directly and indirectly affect the quality of food. Food also gets polluted during
processing, storage, transportation and retailing. In addition to the above causes
the food is polluted by intentional act of food adulteration. In order to prevent
food adulteration, the Parliament of India has enacted the Prevention of Food
Adulteration Act, 1954.
6. Radio-active Pollution
Radio-active pollution is the pollution caused by the blast of atoms. Some
elements like radium, uranium, etc, emit invisible effects known as radiations. The
emission of these invisible radiations is known as radio-activity and such
substances are called radio-active substances. Radio-active substances emit three
kinds of rays known as alpha rays, beta rays and gamma rays. Out of these three
gamma rays are most dangerous for living beings. Nuclear power plants and
testing of atom bombs are the main sources of radioactive pollution. Atomic
pollution is a slow and silent killer but very lethal. In order to control and regulate
use of atomic energy, the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 has been enacted by the Indian
Parliament. Nevertheless, our environment is exposed to greater atomic pollution
due to the magnitude of use of atomic energy.
(K) IMPACT OF GLOBAL WARMING
Global warming is the greatest challenge facing our planet.16
It is, in fact,
the increase in the temperature of the earth’s neon- surface air. It is one of the
most current and widely discussed factors. It has far-reaching impact on
biodiversity and climatic conditions of the planet. Several current trends clearly
demonstrate that global warming is directly impacting on rising sea levels, the
melting of ice caps and significant worldwide climate changes. In short, global
warming represents a fundamental threat to all living things on earth. Global
average temperature rose significantly during the past century. The prevailing
scientific view is that most of the temperature increases since mid-20th century has
been caused by increases in atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations produced
by human activity. Most scientists agree that planet’s temperature has risen 0.5
degree Celsius since 1900 and will continue to increase at an increasing rate. As a
result, the world is getting warmer.
Wetlands are lost as the level rises. Rise in atmospheric temperature will
lead to the outbreak of air borne and water-borne diseases. It would also contribute
to the rise in death caused by heat. The problem of drought would be frequent.
Consequently, malnutrition and starvation will pose serious challenge before
humanity. Global warming is a great threat to the flora and fauna of the earth. A
large number of species of them may become extinct. The expanse of desert would
increase. Low rainfall and rising temperature could add to the intensity and
frequency of dusty storm. This in turn will immensely affect the quality of
agricultural land, ultimately causing adverse effect on agricultural produce. It
would have far-reaching socio-economic impact. In Indian context, the impact of
global warming is a matter of grave concern. As is well known, India is mainly an
agricultural country and agriculture here is gamble of the monsoon, e.g. largely
depending on rainfall. Though it is to affect the whole country, the worst likely
impact would be on central and northern India which is high-yielding parts of the
country. These are the regions which produce the largest agricultural yield. The
rise in atmospheric temperature and fall in rain would naturally result in decline in
crop production. Moreover, it would have great effect on biodiversity as well.
The growing concerns over global temperatures have led to the nations,
states, corporations and individuals to draw out a plan of action to avert the
situation. As a result the world’s primary international agreement on combating
global warming was reached in Kyoto in 1997 which came to be known as Kyoto
Protocol. However, ten years have passed; the situation does not appear to be very
changed. It seems that the member countries are not very serious about its
devastating effects. In addition, forestation can be of great help in this regard.
Planting more trees and reducing timber cuts worldwide will help restore the
imbalance. Secondly, we must follow on environmental policy of ‘reduce, reuse,
recycle’, i.e. promoting the reuse of anything. Thirdly, the use of fuel-efficient
vehicles should be promoted as these vehicles have lower emissions of harmful
gases. Fourthly, every individual should be aware of the importance of the
protecting environment. Besides, eco- friendly technologies must be promoted,
and must be substituted with the technologies which cause great emission of global
warming gases. Public awareness campaign can be of great help in this regard
because unless each and every individual is aware only governments’ effect cannot
bring desired difference.
One of the biggest problems facing the world today is global warming.17
Many scientists believe that our production of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse
gases is having a heating effect on the atmosphere, and this could be very
dangerous for human life. Many problems could result from global warming. One
of the biggest problems is raising sea level. This could result in the flooding of
low lying coastal areas and cities, such as Egypt, the Netherlands, and Bangladesh.
Some countries might even disappear completely! Another problem caused by
global warming is changes in weather patterns. Many areas of the world are
experiencing increased hurricanes, floods, and other unusual weather. A third
problem associated with global warming is the effect on animals. Fish populations
could be affected, while some insects which spread disease might become more
common. There are several things we can do to solve the problem of global
warming. One solution is to stop producing C02. We can do this by switching
from oil, coal and gas to renewable energy. Another solution is to plant more
trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, which is not a greenhouse
gas. A third solution is to use less energy and to recycle more products.
Generating electricity is one of the main sources of carbon dioxide. If we use less
electricity, we will produce less C02.
CHAPTER – III
CONSTITUTIONAL MANDATE AND
(A) CONSTITUTIONAL COMMITMENTS
Indian Constitution is perhaps one of the rare constitutions of the world
which contains specific provisions relating to environment protection. It puts duty
on the “State”18
as well as “citizens”19
to protect and improve the environment.
The judicial grammar of interpretation has made the right to live in healthy
environment as sanctum sanctorum of human rights. Now it is considered as an
integral part of right to life under article 21 of the Constitution.20
Articles 32 and 226 of the Constitution empower the Supreme Court and the
High Courts, respectively, to issue directions, orders or writs, including writs of
habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto and certiorari. The
writs of mandamus, certiorari and prohibition are generally resorted to
The Indian judiciary has made an extensive use of these constitutional
provisions and developed a new “environmental jurisprudence” of India.21
most of the environmental matters have been brought before the judiciary through
See Article 48-A, of the Constitution of India
See Article 51-A(g)
For details of this aspect, see infra chapter III on “Constitutional Provisions and Environment Protection in India”.
See infra Chapter V on “Sustainable Development and Judiciary in India”.
“Public Interest Litigation” (PIL). Out of all the legal remedies available for the
protection of environment, the remedy under the constitution is preferred because
of its relative speed, simplicity and cheapness.
The Supreme Court while developing a new environmental jurisprudence
has held that the powers of the Supreme Court under Article 32 are not restricted
and it could award damages in public interest litigation or writ petition in those
cases where there has been any harm or damage to the environment due to
pollution. In addition to damages, the person guilty of causing pollution can also
be held liable to pay exemplary damages so that it may act as deterrent for others
not to cause pollution in any manner. The said approach of the Supreme Court is
based on “Polluter Pays Principle”. 22
The Supreme Court has imposed exemplary
damages on multinational companies such as Coca Cola and Pepsi for damaging
the ecology in the States of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir by painting
advertisements on the rocks. The Supreme Court directed the companies to
remove these advertisements without further polluting the environment.
(B) INTERNATIONAL CONCERN FOR ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION
AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
International concern for environment protection and sustainable
development is comparatively of recent origin. The U.N. Conference on Human
Environment and Development at Stockholm in 1972 is considered to be the
Magna Carta of environment protection and sustainable development. This
conference resulted in the “Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment”.
See M.C. Mehta V. Kamal Nath, (1997) 1 SCC 388. See also M.C. Mehta V. Kamal Nath, (1999) 1 SCC 702 and
M.C. Mehta V. Kamal Nath, (2000) 3 SCC 745. For details see infra chapter V on “Sustainable Development and
Judiciary in India”.
The Declaration, besides preamble, consists of seven universal truths and twenty
six principles. It proclaimed that man is both creator and molder of his
environment which gives him physical sustenance and affords him the opportunity
of intellectual, moral, social and spiritual growth. Both aspects of man’s
environment, the natural and manmade are essential to his well-being and to the
enjoyment of basic human rights even the right to life itself.
The protection and improvement of the human environment is a major issue
which affects the well-being of people and economic development throughout the
world. A point has been reached in history when we must shape our actions
throughout the world with a more prudent care for their environmental
consequences. To defend and improve the human environment for the present and
future generations has become an imperative goal for mankind- a goal to be
pursued together with, and in harmony with, the established and fundamental goals
of peace and of world-wide economic and social development. To achieve this
environmental goal will demand the acceptance of responsibility by citizens and
communities and by enterprises and institutions at every level, all sharing equitably
in common efforts.
Principle 1 on the Declaration rightly stated that “man has the fundamental
right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a
quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being, and he bears a solemn
responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future
The report of the World Commission on Environment and Development in
1987 not only provided impetus to sustainable development but also brought in to
focus the common concerns of the people, the report of the World Commission on
Environment and Development in 1987 not only provided impetus to sustainable
development but also brought into focus the common concerns of the people,
common challenges which we face the world over and the common endeavors’
which we need for peace, security development and environment.
Earth Summit of 1992 at Rio de Janeiro, through Rio Declaration and
Agenda 21, has further concretized the concept of environment protection and
In 1997 the World Climate Conference was held at Kyoto (Japan) where a
historic accord was signed by the participating countries for mandatory cuts in
emission of green house gases particularly by the industrialized nations to help in
saving the planets from global warming. In August-September, 2002, the World
Summit on Sustainable Development was held in Johannesburg, South Africa. In
this Summit the representatives of the people of the world adopted the
Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable development and to build a humane,
equitable and caring global society cognizant of the need for human dignity for all.
Different Conferences of Parties (COP) have regularly insisted on the reduction of
Green House gases. The Kyota Protocol has also come into force w.e.f. 16.2.2005.
See infra Chapter IV on “Sustainable Development and the Law”.
(C) PEOPLE’S RESPONSE AND ROLE OF JUDICIARY IN INDIA
Enactment of a law, but tolerating its infringement, is worse than not
enacting a law at all. Continued tolerance of such violation of law not only renders
legal provisions nugatory but such tolerance by the enforcement machinery
encourages lawlessness and adoption of means which cannot, or ought not to, be
tolerated in any civilized society. A law is usually enacted because the legislature
feels that it is necessary. It is with a view to protect and preserve the environment
and save it for future generations and to ensure good quality of life that the
legislature has enacted anti-pollution laws and incorporated many statutory
provisions for the protection of the environment. Violation of anti-pollution laws
not only adversely affects the existing quality of life but the non-enforcement of
the legal provisions often results in ecological imbalance and degradation of
environment, the adverse effect of which has to be borne by the future
The environmental imperative is ultimately a matter of public and private
rights and duties and interests of future generations which are not available as
negotiable commodities to be purchased at any “going rate”.25
Effective environmental protection and improvement is, therefore, a matter
of legal rights and duties.
Therefore, it is essential that the people should be aware of the adverse
consequences of environmental pollution and they should not only protect and
Indian Council for Enviro-legal Action V. Union of India, (1996) 5 SCC 281 at 293 (popularly known as Coastal
Law Society of India V. Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Ltd., A.I.R. 1994 Ker. 308 at 321.
improve the environment but also ensure the compliance of anti-pollution laws and
if need be, to take help of the judicial forum to enforce such laws to maintain the
Fortunately, in India, the people’s response to ecological crisis has been very
positive. In certain cases they have formed the pressure groups and exerted
influence on the government to take decision on certain developmental projects
only after making proper environment impact assessment (EIS). For example,
Silent Valley Movement in Kerala. The role of NGO’s (non-governmental
organizations) in this regard is very important. The scientific and academic
community has contributed their share in environmental decisions by new
researches. For example, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute,
Nagpur (NEERI); The Centre for science and Environment, New Delhi; the Centre
for Environment Education, Ahmadabad, are a few institutions among many others
in the country which are continuously engaged in conducting research in the field
of environment. Some people have shown their deep concern for environmental
issues by filing public interest litigations (PIL) and got favorable directions from
the Courts in appropriate cases. In this regard the name of Mr. M.C. Mehta comes
in the forefront who single-handedly has filed a number of public interest
litigations in the Supreme Court relating to different aspects of the environment
protection. Thus, the environmental activists, lawyers and judges have made their
significant contributions. Local people of the municipality (e.g., in Ratlam) have
raised their voice against the local authorities for the non-performance of their
duties. Thus, in India, the people have responded to the environmental issues at
local level, zonal level, and State level and at the national level in different ways.
It is interesting as well as significant to note that in India different laws
relating to environment protection recognize the role of people in protecting the
“CHIPKO” movement and “APPIKO” movement (in Karnataka) for
saving the forests for exploitation are the examples of peoples’ responses for the
protection of environment by their involvement. In Kerala, at the grass root level,
the campaign against the Silent Valley Project was led by Kerala Sastra Sahitya
Parishad (KSSP). The Society for Protection of Silent Valley filed a PIL against
the government to stop the execution of the project. There has been sustained
agitation by certain environmentalists and social workers against the
Narmada Valley Project. The movement is known as Narmada Bachao
Andolan (NBA) or Save the Narmada Movement, which has been led by Baba
Amte and Medha Patikar. The Tehri Bandh Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti (TBVSS),
led by Shri Sunder Lal Bahuguna has been protesting against the construction
of the Tehri Dam Due to its adverse environmental effects.
See for example, Section 91 of C.P.C.; Section 133 of Cr.P.C.; Section 49 of the Water (Prevention and Control of
Pollution) Act, 1974; Section 43 of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981: Section 55 of the Wild
Life (Protection) Act, 1972; and section 19 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
The judicial response to almost all environmental litigations has been very
positive in India. The primary effort of the Court while dealing with the
environmental related issues is to see that the enforcement agencies, whether it be
the State or any other authority, take effective steps for the enforcement of the
laws. Even though it is not the function of the Courts to see the day to day
enforcement of the law, that being the function of the executive, but because of the
non-functioning of the enforcement agencies to implement the law, the courts as of
necessity have to pass orders directing them to implement the law for the
protection of the fundamental right of people to live in healthy environment.
Passing of the appropriate orders requiring the implementation of the law cannot
be regarded as the court having usurped the function of the legislature or the
Though the judicial development of environmental law has been vigorous
and imaginative, yet at times it may be found wanting. It has certain limitations of
its own. For example, in some cases frivolous or vexatious writ petitions are filed
in the name of public interest litigation involving environmental matters. It has
been noticed that such litigations are filed mala fide and arise out of enmity
between the parties. 28
Sometimes the judicial order is not fully obeyed by the
parties concerned. Even the government and its agencies like Pollution Control
Board (PCB) have been issuing directions contrary to the orders of the court.29
courts also do not have any scientific and technical expertise in environmental
Indian Council for Enviro-Legal Action V. Union of India, (1996) 5 SCC 281 at 294 (popularly known as Coastal
See Subhash Kumar v. State of Bihar,(1991) 1 SCC 598; and Chhetriya Pradushan Mukti Sagharsh Samiti v. State
of U.P., (1990) 4 SCC 449.
Vineet Kumar Mathur v. Union of India, (1996) 7 SCC 714. See also Vineet kumar Mathur v. Union of India,
(1996) 11 SCC 119.
cases and thus it has to depend upon the findings of various commissions and other
It is because of this reason that the courts have suggested for setting up
of environmental courts to deal with environmental matters.31
The government has
set up the National Environment Appellate Authority in 1998 to hear the appeals
with respect to restrictions of area in which any industries, operations or processes
shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards under
the environment (protection) Act, 1986.32
In View of the above scenario, following fundamental key issues arise for
(i) How are the “environment” and “sustainable development” defined?
(ii) How has the concept of sustainable development been developed at
the international and national levels?
(iii) What are the constitutional provisions in India for the protection and
improvement of the environment?
(iv) What is the existing legal mechanism ensuring environment protection
and sustainable development?
(v) Is the existing legal mechanism foolproof to ensure environment
protection and quality of life for all?
(vi) What has been the response of the people and NGO’s for the protection
and improvement of the environment?
See M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, A.I.R. 1987 S.C. 965 (popularly known as Oleum Gas Leakage case).
Ibid, at 982. See also Vellore Citizens Welfare Forum v. Union of India, (1996) 5 SCC 647 (popularly known as
T.N. Tanneries case)
See infra chapter on “Environment(protection) Act, 1986 and the National Environment Appellate Authority Act,
(vii) What role has the judiciary played in providing impetus to the movement
of environment protection and sustainable development in India? Is it
only a cosmetic approach by way of public interest litigation or is there
any substance in it?
(viii) What is the impact of socio-economic problems such as poverty,
illiteracy, over population on the environment?
(ix) How to protect the victims of the environmental harm? And how the
basic principles of sustainable development help in this regard?
(D) COMMON LAW AND OTHER STATUTORY REMEDIES
Nuisance means anything which annoys hurts or that which is offensive. It
may be in the form of obnoxious smells, noise, fumes, air or water pollution due to
the effluents or discharge or it may be any kind of obstruction which interferes
with the right of the person to which he is otherwise entitled or exclusive use.
Under the Common Law Principle, the nuisance is concerned with then unlawful
interference with the person’s right over wholesomeness of land or of some right
over or in connection with it.
Nuisance can be further divided into two categories. These are:
1. Private Nuisance
2. Public Nuisance
Private nuisance can be defined as an unreasonable interference with a
general right of the public by above mentioned methods. However, the primary
difference between private and public nuisance lies in the remedies sought.
Public nuisance is both a tort and a crime. But private nuisance is not a
crime but only a tort.
In Ram Baj Singh V. Babu Lal (A.I.R. 1982 All. 285), a person built a brick
grinding machine in front of the consulting chamber of medical practitioner. The
machine was generating lot of dust and noise which polluted the atmosphere and
entered the consulting chamber of the medical practitioner and caused physical
inconvenience to him and the patients. The Allahabad High Court held that it
amounted to private nuisance which can reasonably be said to cause injury,
discomfort or annoyance to a person. The court granted injunction against the
It means direct interference with personal or proprietary rights without
lawful excuse. The tort of trespass is actionable per se and there is no need to
show damage as a result of trespass. There are two things which are required to be
proved for constituting the tort of trespass, i.e., there must be intentional or
negligent interference with the personal or proprietary right and secondly, such
interference must be direct rather than consequential. For example, when A throws
waste on B’s land or when a discharges effluent from his factory on the land
belonging to B intentionally or negligently, it amounts to trespass. The aggrieved
plaintiff can approach a court for compensation and injunction.
Negligence means want of care. When there is a duty to take care and the
care is not taken which results in some harm to another person, we can say there
was negligence. It is based on the principle of fault. In order to succeed in an
action for negligence, there has to be some fault on the part of the defendant. In
environmental cases, the tort of negligence is utilized when other torts of nuisance
or trespass are not available. In order to succeed in an action for negligence, it
must be established that there was direct link between the negligence and the harm
caused. Further, it has to be proved that the person guilty of negligence has not
taken due care which he has required to take under the law.
In Naresh Dutt Tyagi V. State of U.P., (1995 Supp (3) SCC 144) Chemical
pesticides were stored in the godown in a residential area. Fumes emanating from
the pesticides leaked to the contiguous property through ventilators which resulted
in death of three children and an infant in the womb of the mother. It was held that
it was a clear case of negligence.
4. Strict Liability and Absolute Liability
The rule of strict liability was evolved in the year 1868 in the case of
Rylands V. Fletcher (1868) LR 3 HL 330 by Blackburn, J.
This rule provides that a person who for his own purpose brings, collects and
keeps on his land anything likely to do mischief by its escape must keep it at his
peril and, if the thing so collected escapes and causes any mischief he is prima
facie liable for the damage which is the natural consequence of its escape. The
liability under this rule is strict and it is no defense that the things scoped without
that person’s willful act, default or neglect or even that he had no knowledge of its
existence. This rule laid down a principle of liability that if a person who brings in
to his land collects and keeps there anything likely to do harm and such thing
escapes and does damage to another, he is liable to compensate for the damages
However, this rule of strict liability is subject to following exceptions:
1. An act of God (e.g., flood or earthquake)
2. The act of third party (e.g., sabotage)
3. The plaintiff’s own fault
4. The plaintiff’s consent (volunti non fit injuria)
5. The natural use of the land by the defendant;
6. Statutory authority
The rule of strict liability is very useful in cases of environmental pollution,
particularly, in those cases where the harm is caused by the leakage of hazardous
substances. In order to have the applicability of this rule, two conditions must be
satisfied. Firstly, there must be non-natural use of the land. Secondly, there must
be escape from the land of something which is likely to cause some harm or
mischief if it escapes.
The rule of strict liability was evolved in the 19th
century when the modern
developments of science and technology had not taken place. It cannot afford any
guidance in evolving any standard of liability consistent with constitutional norms
and the needs of the present day economy and social structure. Therefore the
Supreme Court of India propounded the Rule of Absolute Liability.
The rule of absolute liability propounded by the Supreme Court of India is to
provide a law to afford the change in society. The society is ever-changing and the
law cannot afford to remain static. Law should keep pace with changing and the
law cannot afford to remain static. Law should keep pace with changing socio-
economic norms. If a law in the past did not fit in the present context, the court
should evolve a new law. The rule of Absolute liability propounded by the
Supreme Court is an extension Rule in Rylands V. Fletcher. The rule of absolute
liability was propounded by our Supreme Court while deciding the case M.C.
Mehta V. Union of India.
(E) FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
RIGHT TO LIFE AND RIGHT TO LIVE IN HEALTHY ENVIRONMENT
1. In M.C. Mehta V. Union of India,33
where the tanneries were discharging
effluents from their factories in the holy river Ganga resulting in water
pollution and not setting up a primary treatment plant in spite of being asked
to do for several years, nor even caring to express their willingness to take
appropriate steps to establish primary treatment plant, it was held that so far
as they are concerned, an order directing them to stop working their
tanneries should be passed as effluent discharged from tanneries is ten times
noxious when compared with the domestic sewage water which flows into
the river. Accordingly, the Court passed the following order:
We are, therefore, issuing the directions for the closure of those tanneries
which have failed to take minimum steps required for the primary treatment of
A.I.R. 1988 S.C. 1037
industrial effluent. We are conscious that closure of tanneries may bring
unemployment, loss of revenue, but life, health and ecology have greater
importance to the people.
The Court also rejected the plea of financial incapability to set up the
treatment plant. In this regard the Court observed:
The financial capacity of the tanneries should be considered as irrelevant
while, requiring them to establish primary treatment plants. Just like an industry
which cannot pay minimum wages to its workers cannot be allowed to exist, a
tannery which cannot set up a primary plant cannot be permitted to continue to be
in existence, for, the adverse effect on the public at large is likely to ensue by the
discharging of the trade effluents from the tannery to the river Ganga would be
immense and it will outweigh any inconvenience that may be caused to the
management and the labour employed by it on account of its closure.
From the above decision it is evident that the Court has considered the protection
and improvement of environment as a matter of general public interest and
employed this tool in putting reasonable restrictions on the citizen’s right to carry
on any trade occupation and business.
2. In M.C. Mehta v. Union of India,34
(popularly known as Oleum Gas Leakage
case), the supreme court one again impliedly treated the right to live pollution
free environment as a part of fundamental right to life under Article 21 of the
A clarion call was given by the Andhra Pradesh High court when
A.I.R. 1987 S.C 1086. See also A.I.R. 1987 S.C. 965.
Id., at 1089
in monumental judgment of T. Damodhar Rao v. S.O. Municipal Corporation,
It would be reasonable to hold that the enjoyment of life and its attainment
and fulfillment guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution embraces the
protection and preservation of nature’s gifts without (which) life cannot be
enjoyed. There can be no reason why practice of violent extinguishment of life
alone should be regarded as violative of Article 21 of the Constitution. The slow
poisoning by the polluted atmosphere caused by environmental pollution and
spoliation should also be regarded as amounting to violation of Article 21 of the
Thus, the right to live in healthy environment was specifically declared to be
a part of Article 21 of the Constitution. In this case, the petitioners prayed that the
land kept for recreational park under the developmental plan ought not to be
allowed to be used by the Life Insurance Corporation or Income Tax Department
for constructing residential houses.
A.I.R. 1987A.P. 171
CHAPTER – IV
ANALYSIS OF GLOBAL WARMING WITH
INCIDENTS AND EFFECTS
Global Warming affects the natural balance of environment. The world
climate is going a significant change day by day.37
There are many causes of Global Warming. The destruction and burning
down of tropical forests , traffic clogging up the city streets , rapid growth of
unplanned industries, the use of CFCs in packaging and manufacturing products,
the use of detergents etc. cause Global Warming. Besides, overpopulation,
deforestation are the causative factors of Global Warming. The setting up of mills
and factories in an unplanned way has a great effect on environment. These mills
and factories produce black smoke which gets mixed with air and increases the
amount of CO2.
Burning of Gas such as Methane (CH4) and fuel also increase CO2 in the
environment. Killing animals like birds, big cats, lions, tigers are also an alarming
cause of Global Warming.
(A) HARMFUL EFFECTS OF DEPLETION OF OZONE LAYER
Due to the depletion of the ozone layer, more ultraviolet (UV) radiations will
fall on the surface of the earth and it will cause the following harmful effects:
i. Increase in ultraviolet (UV) radiations will result in the increase of skin
cancer among human beings and animals.
ii. The increase in ultraviolet radiations reduces considerably the
photosynthetic pigment of the plants. Thus, it adversely affects the
productivity and growth of plants.
iii. Ultraviolet radiations suppress the immune system of the body and thus
many more new diseases will occur in the body.
iv. The increased ultraviolet radiations will also kill many plants and animals
and thus the food chain will be disturbed and consequently ecosystem will
also be affected.
v. The increase in ultraviolet radiations will increase the carbon dioxide (CO2)
near the surface of the earth which will result in global warming
vi. Due to the increase in ultraviolet radiations, the life on the earth planet will
(B) GREEN HOUSE EFFECT
It has been discussed above that there is a protective layer of ozone in
stratosphere, that is, in the upper part of the atmosphere. There is also a blanket
or layer of carbon dioxide (CO2) gas in the lower atmosphere. When the
sunlight consisting of ultraviolet rays, visible light and infra-red rays fall on the
top of the atmosphere, then first of all the harmful ultraviolet radiations are
absorbed by the ozone layer. The visible and infra-red rays pass through the
layer of carbon dioxide and fall on the surface of the earth. It must be noted
that the infra-red rays coming from the sun are of short wavelength and they
pass through the layer of carbon dioxide easily. The infra-red rays have the
unique heating effect in them so they heat the earth and various objects on the
surface of the earth. Since the earth and its objects become hot, they also start
emitting heat rays or infra-red rays. These infra-red rays are of long
wavelength. These infra-red rays cannot escape out from the carbon dioxide
layer in the atmosphere. In other words, the blanket of carbon dioxide gas in
the atmosphere traps all the infra-red rays or heat rays in the atmosphere and the
atmosphere of the earth is heated up. This heating up of the atmosphere of the
earth due to the trapping of infra-red rays of long wavelength by the carbon
dioxide layer in the atmosphere is called green house effect. Thus, green house
effect is the progressive warming up of the earth’s surface due to blanketing
effect of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. The thick layer of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere works like the glass panels of greenhouse or just like
the glass windows of motor-car, that allows the sunlight to filter through it, but
prevent the heat from being x-radiated in outer space.
(C) GREEN HOUSE GASES
Those gases which can trap the infra –red rays to produce green house effect
leading to heating up of the environment are called green house gases. We have
already stated that basically it is the carbon dioxide alone, which is responsible
for causing the green house effect. However, in addition to carbon dioxide,
water vapors, methane gas, nitrous oxide and ozone layer also have the ability
to trap the infrared- radiations and thus they are also called green house gases.
But water vapors are present very near to the surface of the earth and ozone
layer is present in upper part of the atmosphere and as such they do not
contribute much green house effect. It is mainly the carbon dioxide, which is
responsible for causing the green house effect. It is estimated that 72 percent of
the global warming is contributed by carbon dioxide whereas methane is
responsible to the extent of 18 percent for causing global warming.
(D) IMPORTANCE OF GREEN HOUSE EFFECT
The green house effect results in the heating of earth and its atmosphere
which is very necessary for our existence because without it, the whole planet
earth would be converted into an extremely cold planet, making the existence of
life very difficult. Without green house effect, earth would be frozen waste
(E) GLOBAL WARMING AND ACTION PLAN
As we know the cause of global warming is the increase of carbon dioxide
concentration in the atmosphere, so in order to protect ourselves from the
harmful effects of the global warming, we should try to control the emission of
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of the earth. Urbanization, industrialization,
increased population, increasing vehicular use; changing life-style and decrease
in forest cover are some of the factors responsible for increased rate of emission
of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere of the earth. Today, the
atmospheric level of carbon dioxide is 26% higher than pre-industrial
In 1992, at Rio-de-Janeiro Conference two important conventions were
signed. The first one was the convention on Climate Change and the second
one was on Biological Diversity. The Convention on Climatic Change puts an
obligation on every signatory State to take effective steps to reduce the
emission of green house gases so as to protect the earth and its atmosphere from
In June, 1997, at the Earth Summit plus Five at New York, it was pointed
out that from 1992 to 1997 there has been increase of carbon dioxide
concentration by 2 percent in the atmosphere of the earth leading to further
(F) THE ASIAN HAZE OR ASIAN BROWN CLOUD
In the beginning of the twenty first century, INDOEX (Indian Ocean
Experiment) scientists have identified a new threat to the world climate. A UN
study, commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),
conducted by about 200 scientists, including Indians, have discovered a 3km
thick deep blanket of brownish layer of pollution spread over south Asia and
most of tropical Indian Ocean. To this they have named as “Asian Haze” or
Asian Brown Cloud (ABC).” This is a major environmental hazard for the
region. This haze consists of deadly cocktail of ash, acids, sulphates, nitrates,
black carbon, and suspended particles in the air called aerosols and several
other damaging air-borne pollutants. The burning of wood and fossil fuels
causes a large part of aerosols. It can also result from natural causes like desert
sand and sea salt. It may be noted that in the rural areas the cow dung and
kerosene are used to cook the food and it results in air pollution. In the mega
cities air pollution is much larger with contribution both from burning of
biomass and fossil fuel combustion. In fact, poverty is one of the major causes
of “Asian Brown Cloud.”
Many people have criticized that why this haze should be called as “Asian
Haze” or “Asian Brown Cloud.” Because the pollution likes corruption, is a
global phenomenon. In fact, the study itself shows that sulphur dioxide
emission by North America, Europe, China and East Asia were many times
larger than those of South Asia. Man made aerosol pollutants are rampant in
Europe and the USA. “Biomass burning “ from forest fires, vegetation clearing
and fossil fuel was just as much to blame for the haze as dirty industries the
South Asian region. The developed world’s progress has been based on the
indiscriminate exploitation of the natural resources. The rest of the world is
following the same route of progress. It is not the industry alone that pollutes,
mechanized farming does the same. Some people have questioned the timing
and veracity of the report regarding the Asian haze. According to them, the
report was released in August, 2002 just before the start of Johannesburg
Summit wherein it was to be used to pressure developing nations to agree on
sharing the burden of cleaning up the earth’s environment. Whatever may be
the timing of the report, we cannot ignore the fact there is continuous
deterioration of the environment and the whole world has to think seriously
about this growing threat.
Some of the possible harmful effects of this “Haze” are as under:
1. It can reduce the solar radiations reaching the surface of the earth because
the pollutants scatter and absorb the incoming solar radiations. This may
result in the heating of lower atmosphere and decrease in the temperature of
the land surface.
2. The reduction in the land temperature may radically change the monsoon
pattern and thus cause drought in South Asia while the rainfall may increase
over the oceans. The increase in the rainfall over the oceans may result in
the flooding of the coastal regions. It is said to have caused a reduction in
rainfall by 20-40 percent in northwest India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.
3. The haze could have potential effects on the agriculture. It will reduce
India’s winter rice yield by 10 per cent. Similarly, it will also affect the
wheat production in South Asian region.
4. The haze may lead to a spurt in respiratory and other diseases due to
pollution and thus may become responsible for hundreds of thousands of
deaths a year from these diseases. Press reports emanating from London
convey a shocking data that about 24,000 premature deaths occurred in India
annually in the early nineties due to pollution and a few years later the figure
jumped to 37,000 deaths every year.
5. The haze may cause acid rain, which will not only affect the agriculture
but also contaminate water resources.
This discovery of “Asian Haze” has sent a shock wave in the sub-continent
and the countries likely to be affected from this are India, Pakistan, Afghanistan,
Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives. But the threat is not
restricted to Asian countries. This has also frightened much of Europe. The
UNEP’s executive director, who released the report at a press conference in
London in August, 2002, warned that “there are global implications not least
because a pollution parcel like this can travel half way round the globe in a week.”
But it is not yet clear as to what is the relationship of haze to global warming,
which the scientists believe is caused due to emission of greenhouse gases that trap
the earth’s heat. It is also not clear how this will affect the world-wide
concentration of ozone and other pollutants. The Asian haze only reminds man of
the dangers of mindless pursuit of growth by ransacking nature’s reserve without
replenishing them. Thus, the protection and perseverance of the environment is the
need of the hour.38
Scientists agree that even a small increase in the global temperature would
lead to significant climate and weather changes, affecting cloud cover,
precipitation, wind patterns, the frequency and severity of storms, and the duration
• Rising temperatures would raise sea levels as well, reducing supplies of
fresh water as flooding occurs along coastlines worldwide and salt water
• Many of the world’s endangered species would become extinct as rising
temperatures changed their habitat.
See, S.K. Bal and J. Mukherjee, “Asian haze: threat to world climate”, The Tribune, at 13, November 7, 2002.
See also the Editorial, “The deadly haze”, The Tribune, at 10, August 17, 2002.
• Millions of people also would be affected, especially poor people who live
in precarious locations or depend on the land for a subsistence living.
• Certain vector-borne diseases carried by animals or insects, such as malaria,
would become more widespread as warmer conditions expanded their range.
(G) CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS ARE THE BIGGEST PROBLEM
Currently, carbon dioxide accounts for more than 60 percent of the enhanced
greenhouse effect caused by the increase of greenhouse gases, and the level of
carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing by more than 10 percent every 20
If emissions of carbon dioxide continue to grow at current rates, then the
level of the gas in the atmosphere will likely double, or possibly even triple, from
pre-industrial levels during the 21st century.
(H) CLIMATE CHANGES ARE INEVITABLE
According to the United Nations, some climate change is already inevitable
because of emissions that have occurred since the dawn of the Industrial Age.
While the Earth’s climate does not respond quickly to external changes,
many scientists believe that global warming already has significant momentum due
to 150 years of industrialization in many countries around the world. As a result,
global warming will continue to affect life on Earth for hundreds of years, even if
greenhouse gas emissions are reduced and the increase in atmospheric levels
(I) WHAT IS BEING DONE TO REDUCE GLOBAL WARMING?
To lessen those long-term effects, many nations, communities and
individuals are taking action now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow
global warming by reducing dependence on fossil fuels, increasing the use of
renewable energy, expanding forests, and making lifestyle choices that help to
sustain the environment.
Whether they will be able to recruit enough people to join them, and whether
their combined efforts will be enough to head off the most serious effects of global
warming, are open questions that can only be answered by future developments.39
Global warming is the term used to describe a gradual increase in the
average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and its oceans, a change that is
believed to be permanently changing the Earth’s climate. Even though it is an
ongoing debate, it is proved by the scientists that the planet is warming.40
The 29th century is experiencing a continued increase of Earth’s mean
atmospheric temperature by about 1.4 degrees F and about two thirds of it
occurring since 1980. This is global warming is affecting the nature’s balance and
has a huge impact on life like continued heat waves, and sudden occurrence of
storms and floods. Don’t we see time to time the epidemics that are devastating to
human life and the flooding of the farmlands that puts economy in a deep hole?
Scientific evidence indicates that since 1950, the world’s climate has been
warming, primarily as a result of emissions from non -stop burning of fossil fuels
and the razing of tropical forests. Since the industrial revolution till this day, there
is a constant emission of the carbon into the atmosphere, everything we do we
leave carbon footprints. It is a man made cause of the global warming. The global
emissions jumped 3 percent in 2011 and are expected to jump another 2.6 percent
in 2012, researchers reported.
The greenhouse effect is a process by which the greenhouse gases absorb
thermal radiation; these are then reradiated in all directions. But when some of
these radiations come back to the surface and lower atmosphere, it causes increase
in the average surface temperature leading to global warming.
(J) GLOBAL WARMING CAUSES
The causes are many of which the main culprit is the increase in the
greenhouse gases that is produced by burning fossil fuel and deforestation, thus
intensifying the greenhouse effect leading to global warming. The four main
contributors of the greenhouse effect are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane and
Mining for coal and oil releases methane in the atmosphere. More ever the
leakage from natural gas fields and landfills are additional source of methane.
Excessive cutting down of the trees is another factor causing global warming.
When deforestation happens the efficiency by which carbon dioxide is stored and
oxygen released by the green plants are decreased to a huge rate in turn causing
increased concentration of carbon dioxide that leads to increased greenhouse
The nitrous oxide from fertilizers, gases used for refrigeration and industrial
processes are other factors that cannot be forgotten as the cause of Global
Another source of methane is methane clathrate, a compound containing
large amounts of methane trapped in the crystal structure of ice. As methane
escapes from the Arctic seabed, the rate of global warming will increase
Ice caps and glaciers reflect sunlight, bouncing high temperature sun -rays
back into space away from the Earth. When these icecaps are removed the earth
gets warmer as the dark oceans absorb much thermal radiation from the sun.
Some regions may be wet with rain and some areas will suffer drought due to
global warming. The climatic changes happen due to global warming. Seasonal
changes are unpredictable unexpected thunderstorms might result as mentioned
The burning of wood (should be reduced to a greater extent) releases
oxidizable carbon to the atmosphere whose presence in greater amount causes the
elevation of temperature.
There is strong evidence that emissions of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were
the major cause of the recent abnormal warming. Like carbon CFC do not trap
heat but in the presence of UV rays the chlorine gets detached from CFC, drifts up
into the stratosphere and these unattached chlorines catalytically convert Ozone
molecules into Oxygen molecules depleting the ozone layer.
(K) CLIMATE CHANGE
One of the biggest threats to humanity & nature
The impacts of global warming:
It's nearly impossible to overstate the threat of climate change. Greenhouse
gas emissions are rising more rapidly than predicted and consequently the world is
warming more quickly.
Global warming will have catastrophic effects such as accelerating sea level
rise, droughts, floods, storms and heat waves. These will impact some of the
world's poorest and most vulnerable people, disrupting food production, and
threatening vitally important species, habitats and ecosystems. Despite compelling
scientific evidence, governments and businesses have responded very slowly. Even
if countries fulfill all current mitigation pledges, the world will still face between
2.6 and 4 ºC of warming. As we work to reduce emissions, we must
simultaneously begin to adapt to the increasing impacts of climate change.
(L) THE JOHANNESBURG DECLARATION ON SUSTAINABLE
A. From our Origins to the Future
1. We, the representatives of the peoples of the world, assembled at the World
Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa from 2-
4 September 2002, reaffirm our commitment to sustainable development.
2. We commit ourselves to build a humane, equitable and caring global society
cognizant of the need for human dignity for all.
3. At the beginning of this Summit, the children of the world spoke to us in a
simple yet clear voice that the future belongs to them, and accordingly
challenged all of us to ensure that through our actions they will inherit a
world free of the indignity and indecency occasioned by poverty,
environmental degradation and patterns of unsustainable development.
4. As part of our response to these children, who represent our collective
future, all of us, coming from every corner of the world, informed by
different life experiences, are united and moved by a deeply-felt sense that
we urgently need to create a new and brighter world hope.
5. Accordingly, we assume a collective responsibility to advance and
strengthen the independent and mutually reinforcing pillars of sustainable
development – economic development, social development and
environmental protection – at local, national, regional and global levels.
6. From this Continent, the Cradle of Humanity we declare, through the Plan of
Implementation and this Declaration, our responsibility to one another, to
the greater community of life and to our children.
7. Recognizing that humankind is at a crossroad, we have united in a common
resolve to make a determined effort to respond positively to the need to
produce a practical and visible plan that should bring about poverty
eradication and human development.
B. From Stockholm to Rio de Janeiro to Johannesburg
1. Thirty years ago, in Stockholm, we agreed on the urgent need to respond to
the problem of environmental deterioration. Ten years ago, at the respond to
the problem of environmental deterioration. Ten years ago, at the United
Nations Conference on Environment and Development, held in Rio de
Janeiro, we agreed that the protection of the environment, and social and
economic development are fundament al to sustainable development, and
social and economic development are fundamental to sustainable
development, based on the Rio Principles. To achieve such development,
we adopted the global programme, agenda 21, and the Rio Declaration, to
which we reaffirm our commitment. The Rio Summit was a significant
milestone that set a new agenda for sustainable development.
2. Between Rio and Johannesburg the World’s nations met in several major
conferences under the guidance of the United Nations, including the
Monterrey Conference on Finance for Development, as well as the Doha
Ministerial Conference. These conferences define for the world a
comprehensive vision for the future of humanity.
3. At the Johannesburg Summit we achieved much in bringing together a rich
tapestry of peoples and views in a constructive search for a common path,
towards a world that respects and implements the vision of sustainable
development. Johannesburg also confirmed that significant progress has
been made towards achieving a global consensus and partnership amongst
all the people of our planet.
C. The Challenges we Face
1. We recognize that poverty eradication, changing consumption and
production patterns, and protecting and managing the natural resource base
for economic and social development are overarching objectives of, and
essential requirements for sustainable development.
2. The deep fault line that divides human society between the rich and the poor
and the ever-increasing gap between the developed and developing worlds
pose a major threat to global prosperity, security and stability.
3. The global environment continues to suffer. Loss of Biodiversity continues,
fish stocks continue to be depleted, desertification claims more and more
fertile land, the adverse effects of climate change are already evident, natural
disasters are more frequent and more devastating and developing countries
more vulnerable, and air, water and marine pollution continue to rob
millions of a decent life.
4. Globalization has added a new dimension to these challenges. The rapid
integration of markets, mobility of capital and significant increases in
investment flows around the world has opened new challenges and
opportunities for the pursuit of sustainable development. But the benefits